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Austin Cline

Ron Reagan on Religion in Politics

By June 16, 2004

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When his father was buried, Ron Reagan made some remarks about the relationship between religion and politics which many believe were thinly veiled criticisms of President Bush. Some also believe that these remarks shouldn’t be taken very seriously because Ron Reagan is an atheist.

CNS News describes Reagan’s words:

During his father's burial at the Reagan Presidential Library, Ron Reagan described the former president as "a deeply, unabashedly religious man," but said his father "never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians - wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage." ... "True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference," Ron Reagan said of his father.

Dennis M. Becklin, Publisher of SouthernOregonNews.com, writes:

The conventional media had a full gestation week to conceive and hatch a new round of anti-Bush themes. So it should come as no surprise that the media would regurgitate the comments of Ronald Reagan's son to attack President Bush.

Of course the media will comment on them, but I hardly see enough coverage to warrant the implicit accusation that the media is making an overblown case about those remarks. I get the impression that Becklin wouldn’t be happy unless the comments were ignored entirely, but if that were to happen it would be for purely partisan political motives. How else would anyone justify ignoring the thoughts of the son of the man being buried?

As the opening prayer was being offered, the television cameras scanned the crowded rotunda. It was then that I noticed that Ron Reagan Jr. was standing erect, head unbowed, and eyes open. It was then that I said to my family that I guessed that Ron Reagan Jr. was either an atheist or an agnostic. I was right. Ron Reagan Jr. is an atheist. I didn't know that prior to watching the state funeral for his father.
I don't have any quarrel with Reagan Jr.'s right to believe that there is no god. I just think it is absurd for him to preach about the misuse of religion in the political process of America and fail to postulate his comments with a statement that he is an atheist. ... The media has an obligation to let America know that the atheism of Ron Reagan Jr. underlies his opposition to religion in the American body politic. It is calloused beyond comprehension that the opinions of an atheist could be embraced by the American media without such a disclaimer.

Would Becklin have suggested that a person “postulate” (I suppose he must mean “preface”) similar comments with the fact that they are a Methodist, a Muslim, or a Buddhist? Probably not. Only atheists get that special treatment — and apparently because the comments of atheists on such a matter shouldn’t be taken as seriously. That, however, is nothing more than bigotry.

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A very informative article. I suppose Jr doesn’t have a chance at running for office in Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas where state constitutions outlaw Atheists from holding public office.

Also, Ronald Reagan Jr was present when the prayer was spoken, therefore he can respectfully comment on religion if he so chooses. His comments were very appropriate and he is entitled to speak of his father at his funeral as he did regardless of what his religion is or isn’t.

March 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Why was Ronald Prescott Reagan referred to as Ronald Reagan Jr? He and his Father had different middle names, Ronald Wilson Reagan(Father) and Ronald Prescott Reagan(Son). And thus it is totally inaccurate to refer to the son as Ronald Reagan Jr.

August 30, 2009 at 6:42 am
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